“Shouldn’t we help them?” Mason asked Liam. Liam and the werecats were heading out of the camp. Mason and Elsie were following slowly.
“No,” Liam said. “Our deal was only to help them with the RU in? cafe and see what happens from there. Alex got bitten and exiled from the pack. Erik isn’t going to risk that happening to the rest of you.”
“But,” Elsie said. Liam continued to walk out of the camp.
Gunnor stood frozen. His red eyes were glazed over. He hadn’t said another word since he declared that Alvina had found the house, but what did that mean? Was my sister and the others alright? Did they have to run or did Jin find some way to appease Alvina?
I couldn’t stop the anxiety that bubbled up inside me. I needed to know what was happening with Mackenzie. Tanner took a few steps towards Gunnor, but Grace grabbed his wrist and held him back. Maybe she thought Gunnor was communicating with Jin and didn’t want to disturb him.
“You’re not part of their pack,” Monica said. My eyes flickered to her. She was addressing the werecats.
“Our family is with them,” Zoe simply said and then stepped beyond the trees to join Liam. Callie was right on her heels.
Elsie and Mason stopped right at the edge of camp. The conflict was clear in their eyes. “Go,” Alex said to them, but it was quiet and pained.
“We’ll try to convince Erik to let us help you,” Mason said. “We’ll try to come back.”
“We’ll find you,” Elsie added.
“I’m not pack anymore,” Alex said. “Don’t worry about me, about us. Just go.”
Mason’s eyes drifted to Hunter. “Sorry, lizard boy,” he said. “We can’t go against this order.”
Hunter nodded. My attention went back to Gunnor. He still hadn’t moved or said anything. I brushed past Tanner and Grace. Grace tried to reach out for me, but she wasn’t quick enough.
I grabbed Gunnor’s jacket and tried to shake him. He didn’t move. “What’s happening? What about my sister? Is she safe?”
He didn’t answer, didn’t even blink.
“Gunnor,” I practically shouted and tried to shake him again.
“Lily,” Hunter grabbed my arms and pulled me away from him.
“My sister,” I said to him. “Your sister.” A tear spilled from my eye onto my cheek. “What if something is happening to them? What if they are dying?”
He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me in close. “I don’t know what’s happening to them,” he said, “but if Victory was dead, Grace and I would know it. And Victory isn’t going to let Mackenzie die.”
“What about my mom?” Darren asked. Hunter turned his gaze to Darren while he still held me. I brushed the tear from my cheek and stepped away from Hunter.
“Victory would try to save Mackenzie first and the children second. Maria would come after that. I don’t know about your mom or Richard’s mom or Dr. Patel, but for now, let’s trust they are safe. They’ve been learning magic too and Victory’s power is stronger than mine and Grace’s combined.”
“He sent your families down the tunnel,” Gunnor said. His voice was distant. His eyes still had that far away look to them.
“What does that mean?” Richard asked. “Are they safe?”
Gunnor didn’t answer.
Alex sat on the ground with his head between his knees. Almost as if he were going to throw up. I might have focused more on him if I hadn’t been so concerned with my sister and what was happening back at the house.
Richard took my place in front of Gunnor and tried to shake his shoulders. “What is happening? What tunnel?”
Gunnor didn’t respond.
Tanner tore his arm away from Grace and joined Richard. “Tell us what is happening,” he demanded.
“Jin is fighting,” Gunnor said without looking at any of us.
“Fighting who?” Dr. Higgins asked.
Gunnor was silent once again.
“Tell us,” Richard yelled out.
“Fighting our brood. He’s hurt. He’s trying to buy the others time to get away. They’re going to kill him if he doesn’t escape. Don’t speak to me again.”
“Gunnor, what about the others? How long do they need to escape? Keep talking to us” Tanner’s voice rose with each word, but Gunnor wasn’t saying anymore.
“Let’s just leave him and go back to save them,” Richard said.
He started walking, but Hunter quickly grabbed his arm holding him in place. “We don’t stand a chance against a brood of vampires,” he said.
“We can’t just do nothing,” Tanner said.
Grace took his hand in hers. “Even if we ran, we’d never make it in time. Victory is still alive.”
“And what happens if you feel her die,” Tanner said.
Grace’s expression turned to pure horror. Tanner’s face immediately fell. He took Grace in his arms and held her close. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Vicky isn’t going to die. Kenzie isn’t going to die. We have to believe that. I’m sorry I suggested otherwise.”
Molly began to yip and bark. She ran around Alex in wide circles.
“Alex?” Arthur asked. He tried to put his hand on Alex’s shoulder, but Alex shied away and Molly ran between them keeping Arthur away.
“I can hear them,” Alex said quietly.
“Hear who?” Darren asked. “The other werewolves? Mason and Elsie?”
“No,” Alex said. He looked up. His skin was palid. Sweat brimmed the edges of his temples. Underneath his eyes was hollow and dark. There was an almost hysterical gleam to his eyes. “Zombies.”
Grace and Hunter immediately grabbed their bows and notched an arrow. My hands tightened around my ax handle. Tanner grabbed his bat.
Dr. Higgins crouched next to Alex. “Don’t worry,” he said. “We’ll take care of any that get close.” He started to stand while taking out his knife, but Alex grabbed his arm.
“That wasn’t what I meant,” he said in a low voice. It was almost a growl. “I can hear them calling out to me to join them. I can hear them tell me to rip your throat out, to bite at your soft stomach, to eat any part of you I can get to.”
There was an almost imperceptible green glow to the pupils of his eyes. “Don’t let me change,” he pleaded.
“Gunnor,” Tanner called out as he rushed to Alex’s side. “Alex needs more of your blood now.
Alex groaned. He fell to his back and began to convulse.
“Gunnor,” several people shouted at once including me. I rushed to Alex’s side to help hold him down as Hunter reached him and said, “Don’t let him shift.”
Those of us with weapons in hand dropped them by our sides as we tried to hold down the convulsing Alex. It wasn’t really working. I put all of my weight on the leg I was holding down. The others did the same where they were. I knew that Alex was strong enough to fling all of us off he had wanted to. And maybe he would if he turned into a zombie, but I figured fighting a human shaped zombie was better than fighting him in his werewolf form.
“Gunnor!” several of us called out again, but Gunnor remained still and silent.
Alex groaned. Zombie groans rose around us. Alex’s expression changed into pain and sorrow and a small whimper escaped him. He wasn’t a zombie yet, but it wouldn’t be long until he was.
“Arthur,” Grace called out to the boy. She was the only of us who wasn’t holding Alex down. Arthur was trying to help us hold him down while Molly continued to bark and yelp while running in circles all around us. Arthur’s head shot Grace’s way. “Get your bow and arrows and help me,” she said.
Arthur sprang away from us and ran to his pack. He quickly picked up his bow and notched an arrow. He pointed it to the trees like Grace was doing.
A zombie groaned and crashed through the nearby underbrush running straight for us. Grace let loose her arrow. It embedded into the zombie’s forehead. The zombie fell dead right before it reached us. Another zombie sprang from the trees as Grace was readying another arrow. Arthur shot this one. It went through the zombie’s cheek. The zombie stumbled forward and then fell dead. He notched another arrow as a third zombie streaked into our camp. Grace shot this one.
Alex’s convulsions grew stronger. Each of us were thrown off at one point and had to come back. A low growl escaped Alex’s lips. His teeth elongated and sharpened. His eyes changed to the pale blue of his werewolf’s.
“He’s changing,” Hunter said. He let go of Alex to take out his hunting knife.
“Wait,” Darren said. “Wait until he’s really a zombie.”
“Gunnor,” I yelled out again. I heard more arrows and more bodies fall, but I had to keep all my concentration on Alex as his convulsions had now grown so violent it was like a strong earthquake.
Then Tanner was pulled back and Gunnor replaced him. He placed his bleeding wrist up to Alex’s lips. Alex swallowed. His trembling immediately stopped, but his eyes were still the pale blue. He tore his arms from Darren and Richard who were still trying to hold him down. He grabbed Gunnor’s arm and pulled it even closer to him. Molly’s barking stopped. She stopped running around us and slowly approached Alex as he continued to drink from Gunnor’s wrist. Alex dropped Gunnor’s wrist and sighed. Molly licked his cheek. Alex reached up and scratched her behind the ears. Gunnor stood back up and looked around at the rest of us.
“He almost turned,” Richard confronted Gunnor.
“He didn’t,” Gunnor said calmly.
Richard pushed him, but Gunnor didn’t move. “He was exiled from his pack because you said you would take care of him, but you ignored him as he was turning.”
“I wasn’t ignoring him,” Gunnor said calmly. “I was making sure Jin got away. He did, but just barely.”
“What about our families?” Darren asked.
“He hasn’t rejoined them yet,” Gunnor said, “but he thinks they got away and since neither Grace nor Hunter have felt Victory die, I’d say they are safe for now. But,” his eyes fell to Alex who had slowly sat up, “we do need to start the process of turning you into a vampire. Now.” He extended a hand to Alex. Alex took it and Gunnor helped him to his feet.
He started to lead him away from the camp. “Where are you going?” Dr. Higgins asked.
“I’ve revealed some vampire secrets,” he said, “but this one is going to remain a secret. Don’t worry, we won’t be long. Why don’t you drag those dead zombie bodies away from the camp.”
None of us moved as we watched them leave. Then the rest of us moved together to get rid of the zombie bodies.